Tag Archives: Diet

Journey of a Pain Sufferer: Part Two

Pain is not always a matter of who you are or what you do. Remember that old adage: You are what you eat.

By Steve Kaufman

In November, I began telling you about my journey with everyday pain, a journey that would take me to a pain medicine specialist.

First, though, I brought the subject up with my primary care physician. In my insurance PPO (Preferred Physician Organization), I had to get a referral from the primary doc before I could move on to a secondary specialist.

He scoffed.

“All they are is pill-pushers,” he said. “They’ll take your money and prescribe a whole bunch of tests and medicines.”

Well, medicines didn’t sound all that bad – especially since all he was prescribing were hot baths, cold compresses and plenty of sleep.

You may recall, from last time, that I was drawn to Dr. Michael Cassaro, a pain medicine specialist in Jeffersonville. So imagine my surprise when the first thing the nurse said when I called for an appointment was, “Dr. Cassaro doesn’t prescribe medicine. If that’s what you’re looking for, we suggest you contact someone else.”

“If I said I was going to prescribe pain medication, I’d have a line around the block,” Cassaro told me later, during our first appointment. “But I’ve decided I don’t want to do that. When I tell people I don’t prescribe pain medication, I end up seeing the people who want to get well instead of the people who kind of like being sick. Then we’re all on the same page for me to help them.”

Okay, so much for the “pill-pusher” charge. Encouraging.

Cassaro’s office is immediately off of the Clark Memorial Bridge if you’re going there from Louisville, a long strip of one-story medical offices. It somehow comforted me that the office was unremarkable, a suite of functional examination rooms. Anything much fancier would have given me concern about his motives. Anything much less fancy would have given me concern that this practice of medicine was somehow operating on the margins of the AMA’s ethical guidelines.

I know, it sounds paranoid. But this was all new territory to me.

So where do these pain medicine specialists come from? In Cassaro’s case, it was from the world of anesthesia – which is a form of pain-management, of course, though only in the most extreme circumstances.

Why did he abandon anesthesia for the pain-management sub-specialty? “Because, in anesthesia, my patients are asleep,” he explained. “I prefer working with people who are awake, who’ll remember me, who are appreciative of what I did for them. I’m a people person.”

That was evident from the moment I entered his exam room. He felt my areas of pain, poked here and prodded there, had me bend this and flex that. He watched me stand and walk. He looked at my hands and feet, elbows and knees, wherever my chronic pain often erupted.

But mostly we talked. For the better part of two hours. There was no rushing through this. And he listened!

He asked me some of the usual questions: How I slept. How I ate. But he seemed to absorb what I said. And he never resisted a follow-up question from me. He even seemed to enjoy the back-and-forth. This was a conversation we were having.

What he said about diet was the most eye-opening – especially sugars. Not just table sugar, but all the hidden sugars in just about everything. He analogized it to a toothache.

“Have you ever had a cavity and eaten a candy bar?” he asked. Who hasn’t?

“Sugar is an irritant,” he explains. And so are preservatives, chemicals, starches – there are myriad hidden irritants in your kitchen and on menus. “They go around your system lighting things up,” he says. “And if you have arthritis or nerve injury, and these chemicals are lighting things up, you’re going to have pain.”

Diet? Who knew?

It’s more than just diet, of course. It’s lifestyle, occupation, medical history, genetics, bad habits and what you thought were good habits. As Cassaro says, he’s not only my physician, he’s my pharmacologist, my nutritionist, my dietician, my behavioral counselor, my physical therapist, my occupational therapist, even my psychologist.

So what did my physician, nutritionist, et al., do for me? Tell you next time.

Building A Dream

Photos by Tony Bennett

Extol staffers JD DOTSON and ANGIE FENTON have decided to compete in the men’s and women’s physique categories of the Kentucky Muscle Bodybuilding Championships in October 2017. An avid runner, JD is already in good shape but will need to build muscle and control his sweet tooth. Angie, who gave birth to her daughter in January 2016, is in the worst physical shape of her life and tired of feeling, well, tired. With the help of their coach, RYAN SCHRINK, owner of Schrink Personal Training, the pair are ready to begin what will be an arduous journey in their quests to get fit. But what will it take to reach their goals? In this first installment of what will be a 10-month series, JD and Angie share where they are now, what motivates them most and any pitfalls they see ahead.


Ryan Schrink was born and raised in Seymour and played football for Ball State before graduating with a bachelor’s in exercise Science. He also has a master’s in exercise physiology from the University of Louisville. The owner of Schrink Personal Training, Ryan averages 45 training sessions a week with clients who vary in age, ability and goals, and has worked with individuals from age 7 to 92. Despite his busy work schedule and fatherly duties – he has four kids, including Brooklyn, 15; Olivia, 12; Rylan, 9; and Gia, 6 months –Ryan fits in five to six lifting sessions a does cardio three to four days a week. A respected bodybuilder with several championships under his belt, he’s also made a name for coaching others who aim to compete and is ready to take on Extol’s JD Dotson and Angie Fenton. “JD’s challenge is going to his social life and transitioning from a runner mentality to a lifting mentality,” he said. “Angie’s challenge is going to be about busyness. She’s going to have to set aside some time for herself and feel OK with that.”




I want to compete in the physique category of a bodybuilding competition this time next year when I’ll be 42. Pregnant at 40, gave birth the day I turned 41 (Jan. 20), compete at 42 – that’s my goal. I’m out of shape, weigh far more than is healthy. I am an “old” mom and, ultimately, want to be strong and fit so I can be there for my daughter, Olive, for a very long time. I also wouldn’t mind if one of the major benefits is my husband feeling proud of what his wife has set out to accomplish. But at the end of the day, this is mostly for me. I’m better in every way when I am physically fit. It’s time to make a change.


I’m a mom, a wife, owned by four dogs and two cats and work two jobs — I’m a reporter for WHAS11 every weekday morning and am editor in chief of Extol Magazine. I also commit much time to charity events and volunteering in the community. Juggling it all while training will be a struggle. But, I am tired of being unhealthy and lacking the strength, stamina and confidence I know is possible. I want this so much.


My diet currently varies. On good days, I eat mostly protein and low-glycemic carbs: baked chicken, lean cuts of pork, some seafood (fish and shellfish) and roasted or steamed vegetables. On not-so-healthy days, I’ll eat whatever is in front of me: pizza, a grilled chicken sandwich from a fast food or fast-casual restaurant, grilled chicken or chef salad with ranch. I drink a large coffee with cream most mornings (made at home) and rarely take time to eat breakfast — except on weekends when I love egg scrambles. I’m not a huge fan of bread or pasta but will eat them on occasion. I eat sporadically and will sometimes go a whole day without eating anything except a very late dinner just before bed. I drink a ton of water. I don’t drink full-sugar sodas and rarely drink diet sodas because of the aspartame but have craved Diet Coke a few times lately for some reason. I know how to eat multiple meals but don’t do it. I prefer to have a protein shake for breakfast if I have to eat breakfast, though — again — I rarely eat breakfast. Or lunch. Or snack. I enjoy wine and beer, especially at the end of a long week.


I am currently only walking my daughter in a stroller about 3-4 times a week and usually for no more than 20 minutes. I live on a hill and have four dogs. I could be kicking my own butt every day for their sakes and mine but haven’t taken the time. But it’s time. I am a new member of the LAC in New Albany and already appreciate the supportive environment of the staff and my fellow members.


jd-1 jd2


I want to naturally compete in the physique competition in October 2017. At 47, I guess my main goal is to be as healthy and fit as possible, to push myself into new territory, new challenges.


For sure it will be tough. I’m not worried about the food or working out. I’m a former smoker, and I survived teaching junior high and high school, so I feel like I can do anything. I guess I am worried about failing due to health or injury. But I am a fighter and really excited and grateful.


This is the part that probably worries me the most. I don’t generally eat anything fried, fast food, processed meats. I eat fairly well, but always succumb to sweets. I drink coffee, cream, agave to sweeten in the morning, usually toast and soy “butter”, jelly, usually a banana, sometimes a smoothie. Lunch is Veggie Sandwich, turkey sandwich, probably chips of some sort, Jonny cooks dinner, always good meat, chicken or beef, always a veg, sometimes pasta, meat tomato sauce. I crave sweets and try to rustle up ice cream or a bowl of cereal, skim milk. I barely drink alcohol or beer, stick to unsweet tea.


I work out a minimum of four to five days a week, including doing abdominal exercises and lifting, at the YMCA, where I’ve been a longtime member. I run five days a week five to 12 miles each time and average about 35 to 40 miles a week. I also ride my bike to work a few times a week and socially around town after work.



Schrink Personal Training